Hooray – all gay married couples to get federal benefits in the US
Good news for same-sex married couples in the US, as all will be eligible for federal marriage benefits.
Earlier this month the US Supreme Court ruled that all couples, straight or gay, have a constitutional right to marriage.
The US Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Thursday instructed all Justice Department staff to roll out the benefits to same-sex couples.
“Following the Supreme Court’s historic decision in Obergefell that every couple has the same right to participate in the institution of marriage, whether the partners are of the same-sex or opposite sexes, I directed Justice Department staff to work with agencies to ensure that the ruling be given full effect across the federal government,” Lynch said in a statement released today.
The benefits include a number of advantages for those who are elderly, veterans or disabled, and include eligibility for Supplemental Security Income, compensation for spouses or families of a military service memberw ho died in the line of duty, and spousal benefits for retirement and disability funds.
Other protections are included.
“I am proud to announce that the critical programs for veterans and elderly and disabled Americans which previously could not give effect to the marriages of couples living in states that did not recognize those marriages, will now provide federal recognition for all marriages nationwide,” Lynch said.
The Attorney General said government agencies are “currently working towards providing guidance” on how to implement the changes.
Lynch’s predecessor, Eric Holder, was instrumental in the decision to stop defending the Defence of Marrriage Act in 2011 – paving the way for it to be struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013 – and has weighed in on several marriage ban cases.
In Utah and other states where same-sex couples were before bans were put in place, Mr Holder ordered the federal government to treat them as married, despite the individuals state not doing so.
In February this year he pledged to “aggressively defend” equal marriage in the court system, andconfirmed in July that the Department of Justice will argue in favour of striking down bans on same-sex marriage if the Supreme Court takes up a case.